Om or Everyday is Like Sunday
The title is a reference to the Morrissey song “Everyday is Like Sunday.”
I used to really like this song because the lyrics spoke to a version of myself that has since morphed into another version of myself that laughs at the melodrama of young songs like “Everyday is Like Sunday.”
I like Sunday.
Especially since I quit drinking, I really like Sunday. Sunday is just Saturday: Part II. No hangovers. No regrets. Nothing gained, nothing lost. Just another rest day.
And I like my profession, so I don’t get the “Sunday Scaries” or whatever cute/clever phrase we are now using to make human suffering as saleable as a Hallmark Card.
Based on my solid assumption that this is the only iteration of this life that I will be granted, I don’t think it’s “funny” or “cute” that people dread going to work so much that their Sundays are tormented.
Yeah, well, Gruber, some of us don’t have our “dream job,” you know?
I love my “work,” reader. The work that pays my bills is also an extension of my life’s work. I am so lucky, and I have been thanking God (in my own way) most of my adult life for the fact that I have managed to cobble together an American life that allows me to work with kids, with students, with artists and writers and punks and radicals. My people.
But I would be lying to you if I told you my work was not exhausting. There is probably great freedom in feeling “indifferent” or “ambivalent” toward one’s work, to see the daily output as a means to a monetary end. That simplicity might be nice, but that is not my truth. I do not feel indifferent or ambivalent about my work because to me there are few jobs more serious and sacred than the service work that I and my colleagues conduct in the care of children. I deal with human beings, and I am vigilant in my efforts to give 100% of myself to my students when they are in my care — and sometimes when they are not in my care. And so my work is often draining — not because I dislike it or because it is tedious or soul sucking. Much to the contrary: my work inspires me, elevates me, energizes me, is a Life Force.
Life Force: deconstructing a painting with Sally; rough housing with Abe, “Dead Souls” blaring on a balmy Tucson monsoon night from the windows of my car, sitting next to a little girl who is having a tough day, hard laughter with Kristine, the composition of a “perfect” sentence, listening to another who is scared, confused, in need of comfort.
These — and coffee, food, water, and thunderstorms, and so much more — really get my gears turning. These things make me happy to be alive.
These are my Life Force. These are why I didn’t open my veins in my twenties. I never gave up on the possibility that I could always be happy if I kept working at being happy. Even when Life proverbially shattered my fucking kneecaps, I have been scrappy and resourceful, and with the help of those who love me, with the help of God, I am here this Sunday knowing the Life Force all around me. If you are present and as honest as you can manage, this feeling never leaves you for long. And then there’s Grief.
How much we are all grieving, reader. We haven’t even had a moment to take a breath and formulate some perspective on what has happened to us.
The Old Way of Living is over. Dead. Buried. Gone.
We are, nationally, in a mess of our own ignorant, careless, selfish making.
Most days, I try to ignore what adults are doing so I can focus on what my kids need from me, the Actual Adult, in their life from the hours of 8 am to 4 pm, Monday — Friday, and often much longer because it’s not like I just stop thinking about them when I go home. Education is not that kind of profession, nor should it ever be.
The kids are TRAUMATIZED. I can’t even begin to wrap my head around how much damage has already been done to these babies just by the fact that they have had to live the last two years of their life in this fuckery, this insanity of OUR making. Mine, yours’, your mama’s, your daddy — we allowed this to happen. Now what? Now what? There is no map. We, as educators, are on our own. And when I think about this next wave of COVID and the implications of what I, as an educator, am hearing, am reading “between the lines” is more terrifying than I can comprehend without crying and vomiting forever.
If what is about to happen (according to my horrid gut feeling) happens, I do not know how I (or you or your mama or your daddy) are going to cope, much less forgive ourselves. You know, reader, what I am talking about. The threat is that real, I’m afraid.
Sorry, reader, but I have no encouraging words about where this country is headed in relation to the pandemic. I have a really bad feeling. Really bad.
That said, I have to let much of this go to God. I have precious little control. I will continue to show up for my students, mask up for them and their families, get a booster vaccine if I need that. I will show up and be present with my students because they are little kids, and they need a chance to have a little bit of an actual childhood so that maybe they don’t suffer and fuck things up quite the way so many of us Actual Adults in America have suffered and fucked up in our own lives.
The last time I hung out with my friend Ignacia, we talked about moving from darkness to light. “Fuck the darkness,” I said. “Fuck the darkness, I don’t want it anymore.” And she egged me on. “That’s right, Groobs!” Everyone should have a friend like Ignacia — she has the best laugh. When I’m down, I sometimes think of her laugh — big, soulful, loud — and I smile. Her laugh is a Life Force, a light.
Fuck the darkness.
When I was young, I romanticized the “darkness.” I felt America had failed me spectacularly, and I deserved to wallow my life away in self pity and rage. And when I was enumerating, for the good doctor, all the ways Healthcare Providers in this country did in fact fail me, I saw in her eyes, in the eyes of her assistant that I had every reason to feel the way I feel: broken, beat up, traumatized, irrevocably damaged because all of those feelings are facts of my existence as a result of things that happened along the way.
You know what I’m talking about, reader.
Shit happened to you along the way, too. I know it did.
I know. You don’t need to explain. Shit went down,
probably when you were too young to advocate for yourself,
too young to know how to survive,
too young to have the wisdom and experience to contextualize your suffering. You were a CHILD.
Let that shit go.
I’m trying to let my shit from childhood go.
I am trying to do better with my students than MANY (by the grace of God not ALL) Actual Adults did with me when I was a little girl.
I am a teacher, though. What happens to your kids when I, rightly, return them to your care? That’s up to you. Sometimes, in the care of children, I don’t want to send them back to YOU. In fact, sometimes, as an educator I want to save them from YOU. Because I know what Actual Adults are capable of as it concerns children. I know. Only the smallest handful of us get out of childhood unscathed. The rest of us can lie and rage and wallow in the pigshit of self-pity for a past that cannot be changed or we can wake up, grow up, and move FORWARD in GOOD FAITH. Fuck. Moral of the fucking story: stop fucking with kids and fucking the kids up with your bullshit. Not the kids’ fault that you and I had a troubled, ugly go of it. Learn from the past mistakes and do fucking better. Even my youngest students (and they are so young) can grasp this simple concept. Why can’t American Adults?
This weekend was fairly good, reader.
I taught Friday (have you ever taken fifty middle schoolers through a major metropolitan area? I never had before. That was . . . um, intense. At one point I had to jump in front of a student herd and body block them from stepping into the street before the light changed. I think I had mini heart attacks every five seconds of that excursion. How some of you do this 24/7 is beyond me), and then I played with my weekend. Did some sobriety work. Listened to music. Hung out with friends. Laughed. Cried. Prayed.
This morning, I woke up wanting to talk with Lynn. I’ve spoken many times about Lynn, but for context: Lynn was my very first professor on my very first day of college in 1994. A humanities course called Heritage. I admired her greatly from the get — she was so smart, so independent, so free.
Women in this country have been oppressed for so long that I needn’t look further than my mother’s generation to see women’s lives destroyed by patriarchy. For women on this planet there are two ways we might come to be dead: 1) we learn to see ourselves as a machine — an object only good insofar as it can cook, clean, and fuck and our soul dies or 2) we learn to see ourselves as a machine — an object only good insofar as it serves others and we literally die because our bodies cannot take it.
And then we die regardless (we women are actual humans, contrary to what you might have heard).
I told Lynn that it was she and other women like her from the “Generation Gruber Loves to Hate” (Boomers), are what allowed me — an androgynous dyke with a fairly strong intellect, and a lot of ADD — to see another way through my life that wasn’t condemnation to a convent. Because when I left middle school, that’s what I thought: I will be a nun.
I used to tell a different story. “When I was a little girl I wanted to be a nun.”
That’s how I used to tell that story because it was funny to anyone who knows me even a little bit well. Gruber? A nun? It’s hard to fathom.
When I was a little girl, I wanted to be a nun.
This is the story I used to tell, and this is not entirely true.
When I was a little girl, I was so scared of growing up to be some white man’s broodmare/fuck puppet that the convent (I was raised in Catholic school) seemed like the only way around that fate. The convent was a far less awful fate to ME than having to endure a quietly miserable life with a man and his offspring.
I do appreciate that many of you Boomers did procreate. I am happy to have my siblings, my Gen X friends, and most of all my life. Even as I try to parse my messy American life, I am grateful for this life. And I know now that many women, some I am biologically related to, had been forced to sacrifice everything on the altar of patriarchal norms. Everything in the service of others. Every. Thing. I want you to stop a minute, reader, and send up some healing energy to all the women in your life who were broken by The Patriarchy. And if you say “I don’t know any woman broken by The Patriarchy” you are not being honest with yourself or you’ve never had an honest conversation with more than one woman in your life.
Human refuse. All around us, reader. The remnants of cruel, immoral systems walking among us. Those are the zombies. I see this now. I can’t save them. Maybe, in your sphere of influence, you can. I can’t. I surrender your crazy asses unto the care of God. My first priority is my community. This is all I can influence. This is all.
My friend Sal calls me “little one.”
I am little, particularly these days since I’m eating better (though probably not enough), since I’ve cut out alcohol, and most sugar I’ve returned basically to the size I was in high school — senior yearish. Because I am just as sick on Patriarchy as any woman, I feel a modicum of pride when I think of the way my body has shrunk back down. The Truth though is not that I have “accomplished” anything in returning to my high school size, and I am returned to this iteration of my body only after CHOOSING to no longer punish and poison my body. The Truth is that I punished and poisoned my body for many years in an effort to destroy myself because while I could deconstruct literature and talk about art and make even the most cynical teen laugh, I could not figure out how to steer myself through my American life.
“Little one,” Sal says, and in doing so reminds me that not only am I small of stature, but I am small of influence, small in my ability to control anyone or anything outside of myself. I am small. You are small, reader. But small and powerless are NOT one and the same.
Which brings me to the muthafuckin’ conclusion:
I talked to Lynn this morning. We talked about life and we talked about death. What to do? What to do?
We discussed this: sometimes, when people learn I have metastatic cancer, they act weird with me. I know why. I remind them of a Truth they don’t want to be reminded of: everything dies.
I may die of cancer.
You may die of cancer.
I might get hit by a mudslide from the weird monsoons we’re having and die today.
I might die today.
You might die today.
Probably not, but who knows? Death is never outside the realm of possibility.
I am not anymore fond of this Fact than you are.
Just like you, I miss so many people I have loved who have died to this life. What I wouldn’t do to laugh with Diana again, or share a meal with my Grandma Jean, or share a joint with Brian, a drink with Dan.
But they’re gone from this life. They have taken their leave. Some far too soon, and some when it was the appropriate “dying time,” as Lynn termed it when we spoke this morning.
Just like you, I am so afraid (at times) of the end of this life that I cannot reign in my monkey mind. I wish I could tell you, reader, that I’ve figured a way out of grief. I have not.
On this, Lynn and I agreed: we are dying from the moment of our birth. (This is from the Buddhists — though Lynn and I are both terribly bright, we certainly weren’t the first brainiacs to arrive at this conclusion.) So why do we get all weird with people who are sick or dying? Or maybe, like me, have a chronic life threatening condition, but do not present as ill? I don’t lie about having cancer. If someone asks, I am very frank. I don’t discuss this with my child-students because I do not wish to frighten them, but if one asked I would be appropriately honest. What is there to be ashamed of? I have a condition that is part of inhabiting a mortal body in this life. I didn’t ask for cancer. No one does. Cancer is one thing no one wants. Not even the kinkiest, freakiest among us “want” cancer. Cancer is the most unwanted, and most common, of the afflictions that will degrade the human body over time. Sometimes swiftly, sometimes slowly. Like, you do understand that despite all of your vitamins and exercise regimens and control-freak shit, you will die of cancer or heart disease. Sorry, but it’s true. We are not immortal. (Some of you wealthy white fuckers might have figured out immortality, and good for you. You can keep that creepy, sick immortality shit to yourself.) We are not immortal and we are so greedy.
I am no longer a young woman, though to many of my older friends (yes, for being the World’s Best Boomer Hater, I have many Boomer friends) I seem young. I am middle aged, if I am lucky. Because I have lived under the spectre of cancer since I was thirty-four, I do have a unique perspective as a “middle-aged” woman. I take pills every day of my life that remind me every day of my life of the condition that will probably, eventually be my physical demise. I think about cancer every day. At least five times, if not more. You think I enjoy this? I don’t. Cancer is the least interesting subject I could fathom. I hate cancer. I fucking hate thinking about it, writing about it, talking about it, treating myself for it. And sometimes, at forty-five, I am so fucking furious that the universe dropped this bullshit into my lap when I have so much else I would rather dedicate my time to. Just like my Gen-X peers, I wanted the sense of freedom and safety in my body until I was at least forty, but I didn’t get that. As a girl, a woman, as a patient from the moment of my American birth, I have never felt safety in my body.
Yesterday, my friend Sal was telling me a truth I didn’t want to hear, and I zipped up my hoodie, pulled the hood tight down around my head while she spoke. “Oh, yeah,” she teased. “There you go, into your portable hammock.”
When I get scared, my impulse is to hide. Literally.
Hiding from shit never really ends well. Usually just adds suffering to the steaming shitpile of suffering we were handed on the day of our birth into this country that’s so sick on white supremacy, capitalism, and navel-gazing that it cannot properly raise up its own children.
Many of my friends — even the heterosexual, female ones — chose not to have children or if they had any, they had ONE. Just ONE. Recently I was talking to such a friend and she said to me darkly, sternly, seriously, “This line ends here. This line ends.” And I knew exactly what she meant. She meant the same thing I meant, but did not know I meant, when from the time I was a child I knew in my heart I would never reproduce, never carry my specific set of genetics into a world that is increasingly on fire. The line ends. Enough damage and suffering has been wrought by my ancestors.
You know what I’m talking about.
And if you don’t, look around this country. Take a good, hard look at America. Shit, you don’t even have to SQUINT anymore to see how incredibly fucked we are. The game is over. Over.
I won’t fucking play this sick game anymore.
I won’t perpetuate the falsehoods other Adult Americans perpetuated onto and around me — the fantasies, the lies, the willful ignorance has never served me. Though I am not a paper money rich woman, I am rich in love.
When I stopped playing the games of Patriarchal Norms, of Racism, of Classism, Sexism — when I stopped trying to destroy myself after a lifetime of being told covertly and overtly, “Your weird gay, female ass does not belong here,” when I stopped telling myself a story about how “broken” I was, and realized I was not broken, the systems are broken, I was deeply hurt by the broken systems, and I was not defeated, well that’s when the magic of my life really started to happen.
This is a gratitude post. This is a Sunday post. When I stopped telling myself the stories this country wanted me to believe, I became more free. The freedom does not make me immortal, better than, more enlightened than . . .
I am too smart to believe something as stupid as the belief that I am “better than” any other human being alive on this planet. In fact, that’s the kind of thinking that closed me off, shut me down, damn near killed me. Trying to be “better than” is a one-way ticket to spiritual death. (If you’re an atheist, good, great wonderful. Much impressed. I am not an atheist, and still we are the same.) Humility is the only path through for me now. When I failed to listen, I failed to get well from my own misogyny, my own classism, my own racism, my own toxic, colonialist, capitalist garbage. Like cancer, many of these “isms” take real deliberate work to manage, to heal from.
There is so much I am still learning and want to learn before it is my Dying Time. There is so much more I wish to accomplish before my Dying Time. I was operating under some ridiculous American assumption that because I was the children of moneyed white American Boomers, I was going to be treated as well as they were within the systems they managed and perpetuated. As Maury would say:
In closing, it’s all a fucking lie, folks.
The adults in America have been lying to us.
Now, we (Gen Xers) are beginning to inherit control of what is left of this broken nation, and I can tell you this: we have ONE fucking job, and our job is this — TRY YOUR LEVEL BEST
TO NOT COMPLETELY FUCK UP
THE KIDS WHO ARE HERE AND WILL
INHERIT THE UNHOLY MESS
WE HAVE ALLOWED TO HAPPEN
I had forty-three good years in America. Meaning forty-three years before the “human voices” woke me, and I drowned to the illusion that my life would even remotely resemble the life of my white American parents. And I mean “parents” broadly — not necessarily like “my parents,” but all the White Boomers who raised me, who told me if I was obedient, I would have paper money and property and good health care, safety.
I am letting my illusions of paper money, property, and all expectations of safety go. I expect nothing from this country anymore.
Far as I’m concerned, outside of my community and chosen family,
I owe few true debts to America. I am in survival mode once again. I am not sad about this. What can be done? Here I am. I can live or I can die. I choose to live because I know how to do this, and I know how to do this better today than I did yesterday. I will no longer drink my life away, lie my life away, hide my life away. Secrets never served me, and I refuse to keep anymore.
If I close myself out to the pain, I close myself out to the beauty, also. And there is beauty, there is good in this country. Not a ton, but it is there if you are awake. I see it every day when I go to my school. I see it in the eyes of my friend Sal, in the calm presence of my sponsor, in the laughter of my little kids who are just as spastic as I am. Difference is, I know a lot more about life than my little kids do, so I can offer them some tips and tricks that maybe, just maybe, will make whatever is left for them in this sick country a little palatable, a little easier, a little more sparkly.
When my Dying Time comes, I will not have any regret on my heart about what I did or did not do for the children who quite unpredictably became such a core part of my life and heart. When I show up tomorrow morning, I will show up completely. All of me. And even if not every kid “demonstrates mastery” every kid, even the ones who don’t like me much, will know that they are loved by at least one Actual Adult in America. Even the kid who drew the boobs when he was supposed to be defining a word. Even him, I love because he’s a kid, and this is probably the hardest time in American history to be a kid.
As for the death shit, what can you do? You can fixate on it, you can fear it, but you can’t change it. I mean, you could wear a fucking mask or get a fucking vaccine like a grown up for the sake of our kids who are already remarkably fucked up over this mess. You could do that and maybe, at the very least, know you did your best to prevent what, I fear, is going to bring us to our knees. You know what I mean.
Reader, I think I see what is coming. I do hope I am wrong. If, however, I am correct about what I see, what I interpret, what I perceive, I will endure the pain with a clean conscience. I’ve been vaccinated. I will be KN95-ing it up every day until the schools shut down again. I will promote science and facts. Because I know this much, if this disease comes for our children, I do not want to think for a moment that I didn’t do every responsibly intelligent thing I could in my limited capacity to prevent the worst from happening.
That’s all I’ve got.